Baby D's Bagels
$20 Worth of Food and Drink for Only $10

March 13, 2013

A burning thirst for knowledge

Why ‘Bourbon 101’ keeps selling out

The pressure was building as Josh Durr stood before a class of budding bourbon enthusiasts. He was easing the cork out of a bottle of Cedar Brook Whiskey, distilled here in Louisville back in 1917. Students rose to their feet, snapping cell phone photos as the lecturer poured his energies into not breaking the dry, old plug. He did not want to mar what could be the last unopened bottle of its kind.

Because it was bottled after the passage of the Volstead Act (aka National Prohibition Act), the whiskey was set aside for the lame and blind and distributed via the American Medicinal Spirits Co., based downtown. The rare bourbon — a gift from the master distiller at Willett — may have eluded the lips of the infirmed during Prohibition, but its fate looked imminent before Durr’s sold-out bourbon class in 2013.

“You’re almost scared,” Durr says. “One of the fun things, one of the scary things about these vintage whiskeys is there’s a lot of value to them, but no telling if they’re going to be good or horrible.”

The aftertaste of an ancient Broad Ripple brand whiskey, poured by historian Mike Veach at a recent Filson Historical Society event, may have been on Durr’s mind. It was one of the worst things he’d ever tasted. There’s a level of mystery when opening these antiques, he says. The only sure way to tell if the bottle had been stored properly through the decades, or even whether the distillers were on the up-and-up back then, is to taste it.

The cork popped out clean, and Durr passed around small samples to each attendee.

“‘We can all die, you know. This could be poison,’ I told them half-jokingly,” Durr recalls. “We all sort of looked at each other, tried it and … it was amazing whiskey! Some of the best whiskey you could buy today, period.”

These types of surprises are par for Durr’s “101” course, which is a joint effort between the Hawthorne Beverage Group, a full-service spirits branding company, and New2Lou, a nonprofit social organization for Louisville newbies.

The requisite geeking that tends to follow these tastings can also be expected: how the abundant malt (cheaper and used more liberally back in the Pre-Pro days) affected the flavor profile, or how the lower distillation proofs allowed the rye to shine.

Upon arriving at The Silver Dollar in Clifton, attendees are greeted by a flight of tastings, placed neatly atop a style chart. These are here to help the sipper distinguish between traditional mash bills, high rye and wheated whiskeys, “bottled in bond” bourbons, “age statement” bourbons, craft brands and blends.

Before that happens, though, Durr offers an extensive presentation on the history and production of the spirit.

When asked about the popularity of the course, Heather Mickley, an attendee who works in custom publishing, says, “People want to know more about bourbon, since it’s a truly unique American spirit. Whether you’ve lived here your whole life or just relocated, understanding bourbon helps you connect with Kentucky and its rich history.”

Mickley, a Woodford Reserve drinker who says her horizons were broadened by the nuances of the class, adds, “Distillers are artists and scientists!”

For the past seven years, Durr has been honing the program while delivering it to industry professionals around the country. With our culture becoming increasingly prosumer, the spirits marketer figured why not offer the course to civilians?

“It’s geeky enough where you’re going to come out with some information, but it’s not a college lecture,” Durr says. “We’re here to have fun. When you leave this class, you’ll be able to blind taste-test the different mash bills.”

“Bourbon 101” resumes on March 28 at The Silver Dollar. For more info, visit New2Lou on Facebook or hawthornbev.com. 

Thanks for this wonderful

By ronan1122
Thanks for this wonderful post.Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information. http://www.rebelmouse.com/capturehisheartclairecasey/

Wow what a Great Information

By ronan1122
Wow what a Great Information about World Day its very nice informative post. thanks for the post. how to make guys want you online

Your mode of telling all in

By t8ue4k2
Your mode of telling all in this paragraph is genuinely pleasant, all be capable of without difficulty understand it, Thanks a lot. http://www.yachtbooker.com/hanse/Yacht-Charter-hanse-345-3cab.html

This content is written very

By ronan1122
This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you. bubblegum casting

This is very educational

By ronan1122
This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! bubblegum casting

This is truly a great read

By ronan1122
This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!. mad bid

It is imperative that we

By ronan1122
It is imperative that we read blog post very carefully. I am already done it and find that this post is really amazing. text your ex back 2.0 reviews

I am hoping the same best

By johnmak1122
I am hoping the same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me. what does bubblegum casting do

i found this article while

By alex321
i found this article while searching on google for this topic

Interesting read , I am

By ronan1122
Interesting read , I am going to spend more time learning about this subject. hebergeur serveur minecraft

I am definitely enjoying

By ronan1122
I am definitely enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great stories. Comalgerie Relationships

Great Post

By peterparker
This is a Great article by Christian Walsh. Durr has been honing this program for last eight or nine years I guess. It is really good to a person of his caliber delivering such amazing lectures. I really love this website, it has all the information I need… outlook set up